In an unprecedented and sickening turn of events, DeAndre Jordan -- the prized big man who gave a verbal commitment to sign with the Dallas Mavericks late last week -- used the ensuing few days of the pre-July 9 target to waffle and wonder and flirt with his former Clippers team and finally, late Wednesday, succumbed to a change of heart that has massive ramifications for the Mavs, the Clippers and the NBA infrastructure.
Jordan has indicated to the Clippers that he intends to back out of his commitment to Dallas to instead re-sign with LA when the free-agency moratorium lifts as the clock strikes midnight.
For LA, it turns their self-assessed "F'' grade in free agency into an "A,'' as Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers, and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce essentially locked themselves inside DeAndre's Houston home while he chose them. The Mavs were seemingly figuratively and literally locked out, ESPN reporting that Jordan wouldn't even accept phone calls from Mavericks reps Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons.
Don't agree with the furniture layout but I'm not an interior designer. pic.twitter.com/23PNgQB88z— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 9, 2015
"I thought I had a good pump fake,'' Parsons tweeted.
If this sounds like something like a college girls' sorority rush, it should. It's childish, right down to the Emoji Wars the players engaged in on Twitter.
The Pursuit of DeAndre Jordan As Told Through Emojis pic.twitter.com/0rp8A1FH5H— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 8, 2015
But it's also the highest-stakes poker game their is, and not just because Jordan's decision moves him to LA (where he is eligible for a five-year, $109-mil deal) and away from Dallas' four-year, $81.13-mil offer.
Cuban and Parsons' wining and dining of Jordan included promises of how he would be featured on and off the court. His agreement was knotted with Wes Matthews' agreement (which he reportedly intends to keep), which was knotted to what move Dallas might make next (Jeremy Lin was an idea, but now he's off to Charlotte) and it was knotted even to what the Mavs might do with big-fish chasing next summer.
The pursuit of Jordan is why Dallas allowed Tyson Chandler to go to Phoenix, why they removed some of their focus from Spurs-bound LaMarcus Aldridge, why it is an unwritten rule in the NBA that the moratorium is meant for many things but not to break up verbally-committed unions.
So protocol was violated. Agent Dan Fegan didn't do this right. If the Mavs think they have an organizational rival in Houston, wait until Cuban and Ballmer find themselves seated in the same boardroom. And next year? What's to prevent a team from creating a "Trojan Horse,'' sending its free agent for a psuedo-signing to a rival in order to finalize and lock up that rival's resources ... and then the horse un-commits?
Here's concern within some front offices right now: Will Mavericks come chasing our committed free agents if they have new-found cap space?— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2015
The Mavs are now that stripped-down rival. ... Resources lost. Time wasted. Plans in disarray. Woj is right; they will get their $19 million in cap space back (yay, Cap Space!) but will have no viable way to use it to get great. Which "committed free agents'' would Dallas steal, exactly? Aldridge? Gasol? Love? LeBron? C'mon.
While the Dallas personnel department scrounges for help, Cuban will likely re-examine the idea of tanking, coach Rick Carlisle couldn't be blamed for wondering about his future following this final year of his contract, and Dirk Nowitzki must be watching all this pondering whether he's The Last Loyal Dude In The NBA Not Playing In San Antonio.
This is Jordan's fault, though as time passes we'll wonder if Dallas' error was in putting stock into someone who is flaky enough to have abused them this way. It is a first-of-its-sort deal, without precedent, though Dallas has before watched Nash go for the Cash, witnessed Kidd turn double-agent and been Kicked In The Gortats.
Yes, Dallas has failed in Summer Shopping before. But this is unique: It's the Mavs' biggest "get'' ever and their biggest loss ever ... and yet they never really lost Jordan because they never really got him.